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Barely does a week go by where a hit in run doesn’t feature in the news. For most civilised and law abiding motorists this is probably the most heinous motoring crime a person can commit. Road Traffic accidents occur every minute on UK roads. However, whilst anyone who causes an accident is likely to feel guilty and in due course there may be arguments as to who was at fault, most motorists have the decency to pull over and check for injury. For most, liability is the last thing on their mind; and the safety and wellbeing of others take the front seat.

For the small minority, they flee.

If that happens what happens next? It is a criminal offence to flee the scene of an accident. The police will therefore investigate and hopefully find the offender. However, the sentence for fleeing the scene of an accident is far less than the other offences a driver may face if they stay. Causing an accident in a stolen vehicle, or whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol would likely lead to a far more serious sentence and therefore most criminals flee and take their chances. The criminal law needs reformed. However, in terms of obtaining compensation for any injuries or property damage there is hope even if the offender is not caught.

The Motor Insurers Bureau was set up in 1946 by the government to help those who have suffered loss due to the actions of an uninsured or untraceable driver. It is in reality funded by those law abiding citizens who pay their insurance as the MIB collect a levy from insurers. Victims of a hit and run can therefore make an application to them for compensation. 

Where someone suffers an injury the MIB Untraced Drivers Agreement 2017 means they can be compensated for their injury and potentially other financial losses such as loss of earnings. However, unlike the uninsured driver scheme the MIB will not pay out for insured losses. That means any repair or hire costs require to be claimed via the victims own insurance policy, no doubt at the cost of their no claims bonus and thereafter an increased premium.

If the victim only has 3rd party insurance then the MIB will pay out for repairs, but only where there is a “significant personal injury”. This is defined as: an injury resulting in: death, 2 or more nights of inpatient care, or 3 or more sessions of outpatient treatment.

The scheme therefore has its flaws but is an essential safety net for those who suffer life changing injuries as a result of cowards who  flee in the aftermath of an accident.

In some rare cases where it can be argued that the injuries were a result of a violent crime, the victim may be able to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation. They would require to show the untraced driver acted deliberately or recklessly rather than simply negligently. The CICA scheme has its own flaws and awards are generally very low and take years to be made.

In either scheme the main criteria is that it is reported to the police.  So if this has happened to you please make contact with the police immediately. Keep a copy of the reference number and remember timescales differ depending on the circumstances.

Blog by Alan Calderwood, Edinburgh Solicitor

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